By Esha Biswas
“Let’s get Indian food sometime.”
“What’s your favorite Indian restaurant?”
I’m sorry that your words make me stumble and stutter because
I couldn’t find the right response until now.
I just want you to know that
Indian food is not what you think it is
Indian food is not hot spicy tongue-on-fire
Indian food is not exotic trendy cool
Indian food is not your Starbucks chai tea latte
Indian food is not all butter chicken swimming in oil
Indian food is not can’t-pronounce-it-so-I’ll-call-it-curry
Indian food is not what you eat with your friends from your weekly “hot yoga” class
Indian food is not tandoori naan chopped into bite-sized pieces for you to lift with a silver fork and knife
Indian food is not a “chutney” for you to drip onto your grilled cheese sandwich
Indian food is not an all-you-can-eat buffet of ten different curries that all taste the same.
I just want you to know that to me
Indian food is a whole food pyramid, not a little slice of ethnic-food day
Indian food is an embrace contained in ginger-garlic potatoes
Indian food is the way “gingergarlic” is one word in Bengali
Indian food is masala chai to soothe an aching heart
Indian food is my mother’s chili chicken that will make you cry and beg for mercy but also beg for more.
I want you to know that
Indian food to me is probably not what
Indian food is to your Indian next-door neighbor
because saying we all eat the same food is like saying
music in America has only one genre.
Indian food is my grandmother’s love for tomatoes
Indian food is Bengali fish cooked a million different ways
Indian food is Bengali food which I have yet to find at a restaurant here
Indian food is millions of scrumptious sweets stuffed down your throat
by relatives who love you too much and
Indian food is fried zucchini flowers from our garden
Indian food is the smell of lentil soupy comfort cooking on a stovetop
Indian food is my father asking me to taste a spoonful
Indian food is my mother forgetting to put the salt in but
me loving it all the same (and even more)
Indian food is the home my taste buds dream of when they sleep.
Feel free to love your Indian food but
please remember that India can never really fit
on a plate or
on a dining table or
in a restaurant
because India will always
be so much more
than what you call
Esha Biswas is an Indian-American 20-something dwelling in Michigan who is in love with the moon. She is studying neuroscience and ecology, thrives on music and forests, and aspires to capture the most ordinary moments through the lens of her camera to show the world that they are, in reality, extraordinary. She writes sometimes, dances often, and would probably wither away if it weren’t for the presence of art in this world.
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